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|by G Swaminathan|
'Tea for two and a piece of cake' by Preeti Shenoy, Random House India, pp.265, Rs.125
Romantic novels need not necessarily centre on svelte and pretty women; it can have someone like Nisha-the-plump-plain Jane aged twenty six years, slogging on an insipid job. After all, we really do not know the designs of Madame Fortune and so all of a sudden the Plain Jane bags the pricey, wealthy, handsome prince Samir who volunteers himself for a date. It ends up in a mess. So what, Samir again comes with another date and proposes her to marry after enjoying sex. If the story ends there, it would have been a just pain romantic. But, Samir suddenly deserts her one fine morning with a luggage of two kids.
Nevertheless, gone are the days of such women shedding copious tears on their misfortune and fights for their rights. Nisha, returns to her middle class life from the opulent married life of eight long years with Samir and starts something of her own to make a living rejecting any help or compensation from Samir. Here she is helped by her only friend Akash who is younger to her and a neighbor Ms.B who is much elder to her. She sets up a catering business and flourishes on it and migrates from the noisy Mumbai to quiet Pondicherry with Akash. They ‘live together’ without the bonding of marriage.
‘Tea for two and a piece of cake’ is a present generation ‘love’ story where pre marital and extra marital sex are no taboo, parents roles are minimal and are non interfering, ability of the youngsters to accept life’s roller coaster rides, and above all their readiness to think ahead.
The undercurrent of positive approach runs through the novel. Shenoy’s writing is delectable with unexpected quotes like ‘children are natural, walking, talking contraceptives’ and ‘every relationship has an expiry date’ which makes the reader chuckle. However, knowing the character of Samir and his philandering, it is surprising how he settles for a dumb girl like Nisha. His parting with her also is so sudden and the freedom he gives for Nisha to have two children are really puzzling. Akash’s silent love and his extraordinary support to Nisha sound a bit contrived. The three major protagonists, one a dumb plain Jane, a compulsive flirt and a conscious romantic, quick upswing in events are incredible.
Preeti Shenoy carved a niche for herself in simple but positive romantic tales. ‘Tea for two and a piece of cake’ is bitter sweet.
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